How to Spend 1 Day in LA: A Guide to Los Angeles, California

Now I wouldn’t recommend spending one day in LA, there is so much to see and do and it’s a lot nicer to take your time, rather than rush through things, however, my main reason for flying to LA was for a work conference, so I did only have the one day to rally round and tick off my sightseeing list.

My LA sightseeing list was quite ambitious and my Lyft driver from the airport told me that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. I politely agreed that he was probably right, but in my head, I was thinking “just you watch me do it, HUN”. As you’ve probably guessed, I managed to complete it all.

So here are my recommendations for one day in LA:

1) Hollywood Walk of Fame
2) Malibu Beach
3) Santa Monica & Venice Beach
4) Rodeo Drive & Beverly Hills
5) West Hollywood
6) Griffith Observatory
7) Downtown LA

1) Hollywood Walk of Fame

Walk of Fame

My accommodation was on the Hollywood walk of fame, so I managed to see this upon my arrival into LA. The Walk of Fame itself is an interesting place in the dark, so you need to keep your wits about you. If it’s possible and works with your itinerary I would recommend going during the day.

I must admit, it’s not the most amazing thing you will see on your trip to LA, but it’s such a famous part of the city I think it’s worth taking a visit.

2) Malibu Beach for Sunrise

Malibu is about a 40-minute drive from Hollywood, so it does require an early wake-up call, but it’s so worth it.

I jumped in a Lyft which cost me roughly $30 and arrived just before 6:30am (February sunrise time).

To get the best view of the sunrise I would recommend walking towards the end of the pier. After the sun has fully risen you can then visit the beach, walk under the pier and watch some of the early morning surfers.

I stayed here until 9am taking pictures and enjoying a coffee from the Malibu Pier Farm Cafe (which doesn’t open until 8am).

3) Santa Monica & Venice Beach

The journey from Malibu to Santa Monica was around 20 minutes and cost me $16 in a Lyft.

I visited Elephante for brunch and it’s an LA foodie spot I would highly recommend. Not only are the food and the cocktails amazing but you get a lovely view of the sea from their dining area too!

After brunch, I had a stroll around the pier and the beach, unfortunately, the amusement park wasn’t open just yet so I didn’t have a chance to look around.

From Santa Monica beach you can walk along the boardwalk to Venice beach, one of the most iconic beaches in LA. The walk will take you around an hour.

I didn’t spend long here, just enough time to see some street art and take a visit to the famous muscle beach. Muscle Beach was quite disappointing, there wasn’t a single body-builder insight, but it was a Sunday so it was probably their rest day.

4) Rodeo Drive & Beverly Hills

From Santa Monica, I jumped into a Lyft (you’re probably quickly working out that Lyft will be your best friend out here), to Rodeo Drive. The cost was $13 and took 35 minutes to get there. 

Rodeo Drive and the rest of Beverly Hills is exactly what you imagine/see in the LA films, with all the flash cars, people dressed up to the 9’s and the streets in pristine, perfect condition.

I walked from Rodeo Drive to the Beverly Hills sign, looked at some of the fancy BH houses and then went on my way to the next stop.

5) Fiesta Cantina – West Hollywood

Fiesta Cantina, West Hollywood

From the Beverly Hills sign, I decided to walk to the Sunset Strip as it was only an hour and stumbled across Fiesta Cantina by accident. It’s a lively and vibrant gay bar, but more to the point it does a 36oz Mega Margarita, and when I walked past I just had to stop and try one.

You can choose from about 20 different flavours and whether you want it frozen or not. As you can see from my picture, I went for frozen but the constant and never-ending brain freeze meant that I couldn’t finish the cocktail (for the first time in my life).

Anyway, I just loved this cocktail so much that I had to give it a special mention in my guide to Los Angeles.

6) Griffith Observatory for Sunset

After my huge cocktail in West Hollywood, I walked (stumbled) towards the Sunset Boulevard, and eventually caught another Lyft in order to make it to the Observatory for Sunset.

You can choose to get dropped off at the Observatory itself, or like me, to the bottom of the walking trail (at The Trails Cafe) so that you can experience to short hike up.

Unfortunately for me it started to get quite cloudy, so I didn’t get to experience the best sunset, but I still got to see a great view of the LA city skyline that everyone had told me about, as well as the famous Hollywood Sign.

7) Intercontinental Hotel – Downtown LA

The last place I would recommend visiting during your day in LA is the Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown LA.

The pictures you see above are actually from a sunrise that I managed to make during my conference as it was only 5 minutes from my actual hotel, but with the hotel Lobby on the 70th floor and a Sky Bar on the 73rd floor, this is definitely the perfect post-sunset spot, to see yet more gorgeous views of the Los Angeles city skyline and grab a cocktail or two.

Summary

To fit all of this in you will have to get up early and you will be VERRRRY tired at the end of the day but it is worth it.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times throughout this post Lyft rides will be the best way to quickly get around Los Angeles. Not only are they generally cheaper than Uber, but they also give you a fixed price rather than a banding, so you know exactly what you are spending.

If you are interested in visiting other cities in California, click here for my guide to San Fransisco.

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